Developing More Curious Minds
After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, many people questioned why no one had anticipated the terrorists’ acts, even when events and intelligence seemed to point toward them. Author John Barell – who lived and worked in New York City – wonders if the attacks speak to a greater societal problem of complacency and lack of inquisitiveness, and one that can be solved in our schools.
He believes many students have become too passive in their learning, accepting information and “facts” as presented in textbooks, classes, and the media.
Drawing on anecdotes from educators and his own life, Barell describes practical strategies to spur students’ ability and willingness to pose and answer their own questions. Antarctica expeditions, outer space discoveries, dinosaur fossils, literature, and more help define the importance of developing an inquisitive mind, using such practices as
- Maintaining journals on field trips,
- Using questioning frames and models when reading texts,
- Engaging in critical thinking and problem-based learning, and
- Integrating inquiry into curriculum development and the classroom culture.
About the Author
John Barell is Professor Emeritus of Curriculum and Teaching at Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, and former public school teacher in New York City. He works with schools nationally to foster inquiry, problem-based learning, critical thinking, and reflection.